Friday, January 30, 2015

Rangers Forget To Score - lose 1-0 to Montreal

On Dave Puck’s birthday no less!  It’s no blowout – but the Rangers managed just 24 shots (and only let up 26.  We looked like we were headed for OT and a point when with 5 minutes left a long shot by Max Pacioretty went through McDonagh’s legs and screened Lundqvist.  The shot hit the King’s glove but somehow bounced in. 

Wasted were missed Nash shots off Price’s head and a missed breakaway attempt.  Also notable was a disallowed goal in the first where Hank got the benefit of the doubt.  Lundqvist slammed his stick on the ice on the way to the locker room. 

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game? No.  Our PK was 3-3 but PP was 0-2.  A wash.

Where Do We Stand?  Caps won so they are in third – one point up but the Rangers have 2 games at hand.  We’re in the first of the two wild card slots.  Still 6 points above the line-of-death.

What Will Happen Next?  At home to Carolina on Saturday.

Non Sequitur of the day:  Thanks for all those birthday cards and letters.  As Groucho Marx said – you’re only as old as (the women) you feel

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

We Can’t Beat The Damn Islanders (lose 4-1)

It’s only three games – but the Rangers just can’t seem to beat the Islanders – who have finally put together the best team they’ve had since the 1980s. 

I try to focus on positives – but there aren’t many.  We did finally score a goal.  Hagelin at least got to test that the islander goal light was working – breaking up the shutout with 10 seconds left (assists by Moore and Fast).  The final was 4-1.

The islanders are bigger – and deeper – and we couldn’t outskate them.  Their forecheck created turnovers – and kept us from having momentum moving up the ice.  So they ended up creating a ton of shots.  And to top it off – Halak was brilliant in goal.  We were pretty much outplayed at every position.  And the Rangers had some time off to rest and prepare for this one – it just didn’t seem to help.

We actually outshot them 41-38 – but the Islanders had more quality chances.  Hank played well for much of the game – but Halak played better. 

What does all this mean in the bigger sense?  Well, the NHL is about matchups and this Islander team seems to match up with us better than anyone else does.  If we never meet them in the playoffs it doesn’t matter – but they are looking very strong at the moment.  Or to look at it another way – we don’t have to beat them now – 
just later – if at all.

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  No.  Both teams were 1 for 3 on the power play – and it took a 5 on 3 for the Islanders to score theirs.  We lost this game at even strength.

Where Do We Stand?  Some goodness here.  The Capitals somehow lost a game in regulation.  So we’re still alone in third place at 27-14-4 with 58 poin
ts.  So we’re a point up on Washington with 2 games at hand.  And we’re just 4 back of the Penguins with 2 games at hand also.  And most important – we’re 8 points ahead of the line-of-death 9th place Florida Panthers.

What Will Happen Next?  The Montreal Canadiens come to town on Thursday.  They are 30-13-3 with 63 points – good enough for third place in the Atlantic division.

Non Sequitur of the day:  Thursday is Dave Pucks birthday!  Still waiting for some of that wisdom that comes with age.   

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

You Can't Spell Ottawa without OT - Rangers win 3-2 in Overtime

I'm getting the feeling that this is a special year.  Another night – another opponent – and another way the Rangers found the guts and determination to fight their way back into a game and win it.

With the All-Star game break stretching before them – the Rangers wanted one more win out of the first half of the season.  But the Ottawa Senators (and I don’t think they have Senators in the Canadian government so I don’t get the name) were thinking the same thing and it was a hard fought contest at Madison Square Garden.

There was a scoreless first – with Henrik Lundqvist equal to everything Ottawa threw his way and the Rangers threatening but not able to break through. 

In the 2nd – the Rangers got on the board first as rookie Kevin Hayes pounced on a rebound off a Dan Girardi shot – and netted it for the 1-0 lead.

Then – unfortunately – Ottawa got two past Henrik in less than a one minute sequence and it was 2-1.  The first through traffic and the 2nd on the powerplay.

But in the third – out heroes dug deep – kept the pressure on – and fought back to tie.  Marc Staal – who the Rangers recently signed for an additional 6 years – brought the puck into the Senator’s zone and then fed a perfect pass to Chris Kreider – who broke in alone on Anderson and tied the game at 2.

From there – on to OT where Derek Stepan did a beautiful no-look spin-a-rama pass to the speedy Hagelin in front of the net for an easy tap in and the 16-3 streaking Rangers were winners once again.

Shots were even at 35.  Hank saved .943 and, as we’ve noted, has visibly raised his game since the all star snub.  For once – we won the faceoff battle – 37-27.  I’m starting to think this stat doesn’t mean much – at least not by itself.  Face offs only help if you’re also good at puck possession.  The Rangers have been losing face-offs and winning games this year so I wouldn’t dwell on this stat too much. 
Assists for Girardi, Staal, Stepan, St. Louis, McDonagh, and of course Hagelin. 

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  No.  We were 0-3 on the power play and or PK was 1 for 2.  We won anyway

Where Do We Stand?  Washington lost – but in a shootout.  And Pittsburgh lost – but in OT.  So our win puts us at 27-13-4, in third place in the Metro, a point up on the Capitals and just one point behind the 2nd place Penguins with a game at hand.  Most important – we have opened up a biggest-ever 8 point lead on the line-of-death playoff elimination demarcation.  (Editor – hey that rhymed)  (Dave Pucks – yes I’m a poet and I didn’t realize this was occurring)

What Will Happen Next?  A week off for everybody except Rick Nash – who travels to Columbus for the all star game.  Rangers resume next Tuesday with a rematch against the Islanders.   

Non Sequitur of the day:  J. B. Smoove?  His middle name doesn’t begin with a “B”.  B is for his original last name (Brooks) – and Smoove is made up. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Timing For Staal! Rangers Keep Marc For Six More

The Rangers showed a perfect sense of timing by locking down defenseman Marc Staal for six more years at $5.7 million per year – before the defenseman reached free agent status at the end of the year – and before the negotiation could become a distraction for the whole team (as it unfortunately did with Ryan Callahan last year)

The move cements the Ranger defense in front of Henrik Lundqvist and gives us our third “top-two” caliber blueliner along with McDonagh and Girard.  Marc has to bounce back from his share of injuries – a concussion he should not have played through but did (caused by a dirty hit by his own brother Eric) and an eye injury that was scary but luckily did not end his career.   Marc kept bouncing back and returning to stellar form.

Signing him is another great move on the career upswing of GM Glen Sather – the man who got us McDonagh for Scott Gomez and Kevin Klein for Michael Del Zotto. Way to go Glen!

Tonight the Rangers take on Ottawa – and then the all-star break.  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Rangers Ascending - Pound Penguins 5-2

The whole world was watching as the NHL snuck the Rangers-Penguins game into the traditional NFL Sunday 1pm slot as football pushed its playoff games to later in the day.  And historically, the Rangers used to do poorly (1) against the Penguins and (2) in day games.

But these are not your big brother’s Rangers.

26 seconds in –the NHL leader scorer Rick Nash (not Sidney Crosby or Evgeny Malkin by the way) intercepted an errant Penguin pass and broke in all alone to beat Marc-Andre Fleury to get the game off to a happy start.  And the Penguins never got even. 

Brassard added a wristshot goal at 6:08 and the Rangers led by two.   They killed off two powerplays in the first, but on the third one couldn’t stop Crosby from popping a puck in crease past Lundquist for 2-1.

In the second, it was Nash again on the wrist shot for his 28th of the year, and then Stephan on the powerplay and suddenly the Rangers had a 4-1 lead on all of 17 shots.  And so, Marc-Andre was invited to watch the rest of the game from the bench and Greiss skated out to take his place.

On to the third where the Penguins made one last attempt to make this debacle resemble a hockey game with David Perron 5-holing Hank to make it 4-2. But two minutes later – it was again our MVP Stephan at 6:15 who closed out the scoring (and the Penguins) by wristing a Letang turnover past Tom Greiss for the 5-2 final margin.

Two game win streak for the streaky Rangers and assists for Klein, Brossard, Kreider (two), St. Louis (also two) and Zuccarello.  Hank was .941, saving 32 of 33.

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  Not so much.  The Rangers killed off 2 of 3 but only netted 1 of 6 with their own man advantage. We did our real damage even strength.

Where Do We Stand?  Wonder of wonders. As I type this at 4:30pm, the Capitals have lost two straight and have tumbled out of third in the Metro – with the Rangers now taking that coveted slot at 26-13-4, even with Washington at 56 points but with two games at hand.  We only trail Crosby and company by 2 points with a game at hand for 2nd.  And the dreaded Line-of-death sits 6 points below us. Not bad for a team that just dropped 2 of 4.

What Will Happen Next?  A day off and then Ottawa. 

Non Sequitur of the day:  I’m actually pumped that Odell Beckham Jr. will start the Pro Bowl.

Dave Pucks out and thanks for clicking in

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Rangers Finally Remember How To Score - beat Blue Jackets 2-1

Now that's more like it.

With Derek Stepan back in the lineup - the New York Rangers remembered how to put the puck in the net and beat those wannabe foes - the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 on the road - to right the ship and get back in the win column.

Marc Staal (who is reportedly on the verge of signing a six year deal to extend his Ranger career) netted the first goal - through traffic in the second period. And less than five minutes mutes later Kreider scored on the breakaway- and that's all we needed.

Derek Stepan assisted on both goals.

And the rest was all Hank. Lundqvist has been on a mission - raising his level of play ever since his notable omission from being named to the all star team. The proud Swede appears to have taken this personally - and this may be exactly what we needed.

In all he stopped 35 of the 36 Columbus shots that came his way- and the Rangers held on for the 2-1 win.

Did special teams determine the outcome of this game? Yes and no. The Rangers were 0-1 on the power play but killed off all 3 of their PK situations - against a good Columbus power play - so I'd say yes - special teams was a big factor here.

Where do we stand? 25-13-4 puts us in the 7th spot - the wild card - tied with the Bruins with 3 games at hand and 5 points above the line-of-death.

And what in the world will happen now? With the NFL sliding their first playoff game to 3pm - the NHL is slotting the Rangers-Penguins game to 12:30 Sunday. Should be a nice nasty afternoon game. Looking forward to it.

Non Sequitur of the day: Go Colts and Packers.

Dave Pucks out. Thanks!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Will We Ever Score Again - Rangers Blanked By Bruins 3-0

If you ask me – it's all about Derek Stepan.  Take him out of the lineup – as he has been for the last 5 periods – and the Rangers fall apart.  We're already thin at center – and without Steps it's Brassard and lots of not-so-much.  We we're terrible when he was out with the leg issue early on – and we're worse now.  And I think our opponents realize this and target him – if you remember – last year in the playoffs he had his jaw wired shut with a football helmet on for most of the playoffs. 

So – without Stepan we lose -  and last night it was to the Bruins. 

Cam Talbot saved .906 of the shots that came his way – and there were 32.  And we got 30 shots of Tuukka Rask (is that really a name?) but it felt like a lot less.  Not too much more to say here – don't panic and pray for a speedy recovery.  The Rangers are streaky – and there are worse things in this world to be – because if you get streaky good in the playoffs…

Did Special Team Determine The Outcome OF This Game?  Not exactly.  We were 0-3 on the Powerplay and 3-3 in the PK – so a wash.  But if we had netted one of our man advantage situations this might have started to resemble a hockey game.

Where Do We Stand?  We're still holding that last playoff spot with 52 points (24-13-4) and we are 3 points above the line-of-death with the Panthers 3 points behind us (with one extra game played). 

What In The World Will Happen Next?  No rest for the weary as we take out slumping circus to Ohio to take on Dubinsky and the Ranger Wanna-Be's (also known as the Blue Jackets).

Unrelated Thought Of The Day:  I'm happy the Giants got Spags back as defensive coordinator.  It almost feels like a movie. 

Dave Pucks out and thanks for stopping by.